Tanker freight rates from the Caribs to the U.S. Gulf, which plummeted by $0.64 per barrel over the last week, have almost doubled overnight to levels only seen once before this year. "Charterers thought they'd found the bottom of the freight market on Monday," said a shipping source. "So they went back into the market on Tuesday, but from there it turned into a scramble."
"Somehow everyone came onto the market for the same window," said one U.S. tanker broker. "Venezuela had been sitting on a lot of barrels," he said, adding "the mix of cargoes being fixed today is fairly broad."
Brokers said tanker owners were now demanding W350 ($2.2 per barrel). American Eagle Tankers fixed
a 70,000 tonner to Orion at W300. The rate exceeds the W284 ($1.79 per barrel) being quoted before the rot set in at the beginning of last week. The Caribs market is likely to gain longer term support from the North Sea market, which is expected to soar over the next few weeks, thus preventing 80,000 tonners from ballasting across to the Caribbean.